Is Brazil’s loss to Germany the most embarrassing sports defeat ever?

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Brazil was embarrassed by Germany.

In their 7-1 World Cup semifinal defeat, an entire country’s soccer dreams were more than shattered, they were brutally murdered without regard for the emotions of a country already suffering.

The defeat was so bad, the winning team felt the need to apologize to the host nation.

The defeat was so bad, the fans turned on their beloved team, hurling the only thing handy at the team bus as it traveled through Belo Horizonte – oranges.

But where does this rank all-time? We’ve explored other embarrassing, shocking, and humiliating World Cup defeats. But in the context of sports, where does this stand?

First, it’s important to remember, we’re not ranking upsets or surprising victories. Germany is a machine, and according to many, Die Mannschaft was the favorite to win today. Just because a game results in an upset doesn’t make it the epitome of humiliation.

“Embarrassing” is the key word. What makes a sports loss shameful? Let’s dive right into where this game ranks in the top 10 most ignominious sports defeats of all time. Trust me, it’s on the list.

10) 1986 heavyweight title fight, Tyson defeats Spinks

Mike Tyson didn’t just defeat Michael Spinks, he humiliated him. A former gold medal winner and was an undefeated 31-0 at the time, so this was no pushover fight. It was billed as “Once and For All,” supposed to be a historic event. It was, sort of.

Tyson knocked out Spinks in 91 seconds, knocking him down twice – the first two times Spinks had been knocked down in his professional career. The loser landed just two punches in his short time in the ring.

For the richest fight in history at the time – a $20 million purse and $70 million gross – it was a letdown for the ages, and one that doesn’t rank in historical fights, mostly an afterthought thanks to the disaster Spinks put out in the ring. The favorite won, but it’s the manner of victory that puts it on this list. He retired a month later.

9) 2002 World Cup group stage: Senegal 1, France 0

The defending champions France entered the 2002 World Cup on quite a high and with a powerful squad.  With world-class striker Thierry Henry alongside French legend David Trezeguet, along with Patrick Viera and other big names, it was a force to be reckoned with…or so we thought.

Instead, the opening match of the 2002 tournament left a wound that the French never recovered from. A 1-0 loss to World Cup debutantes Senegal proved lethal, as a goal from Lens striker Papa Bouba Diop sunk the French to one of the most shocking World Cup defeats, one they would never recover from as they finished last in Group A and departed in embarrassing style.

It didn’t help that Senegal’s manager at the time was a Frenchman, Bruno Metsu. The day of the victory was declared a national holiday in Senegal.

source:  8) 2003 Big 12 Title game: Kansas State 35, Oklahoma 7

They were supposed to be the best college football team ever assembled. That’s what everyone said.

12-0 Oklahoma rolled into the Big 12 title game as number 1 in the nation across every poll, and their sights weren’t just set on the Big 12 title game, but history. Except that never happened.

Darren Sproles and company spoiled the party in spectacular fashion. Oklahoma took the lead just 2:19 into the game with a long touchdown run, but it all fell apart from there.  All told, Kansas State plastered 519 offensive yards on the Sooners, and on the other end, Kansas State held the nation’s #1 scoring offense to just that opening touchdown. All told, given the expectations, build up, and margin of victory/defeat, this without a doubt fits the bill for all-time embarrassing defeat.

7) 1980 Winter Olympics hockey semifinal: USA 4, Russia 3 – “Miracle on Ice”

US sports fans have been flooded with the historic and heroic performance by the United States hockey team in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, but little is told about the losing side.

Consider the facts surrounding the game. The Soviets had won six of the previous seven gold medals. Vladislav Trektiak was the best goalie in hockey at the time. Boris Mikhailov was one of the game’s best attackmen. Viacheslav Fetisov is a Hall of Fame defenseman. The Soviets and Americans hated each other due to fallout from the Cold War. The Soviets nearly boycotted the Games.

Now consider the facts of the game. Trektiak was pulled after allowing a pair of first period goals. The US pressed the Soviets to the point of panic. The Soviet players never got their silver medals engraved with their names. It was a disaster by all accounts for the favorites.

6) 1996 Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska 62, Florida 24

Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators came in hot, and they came in cocky. They ended up humbled, with Head Ball Coach declaring, “I’m embarrassed that we couldn’t make a game of it.”

The Nebraska Cornhuskers had a 3 points Vegas edge as well as the #1 team in the nation, but many people had the Gators as clear favorites. Danny Wuerffel was a lightning rod. For Florida, the plan was clear: pressure the option, let Wuerffel loose. Neither of those happened. Instead, Tommie Frazier was the one who busted out of the cage, delivering 199 yards on the ground, including “The Run” which took Nebraska just one point shy of 50.

source: AP5) 2004 AL Championship Series: Red Sox 4 games, Yankees 3

One of the greatest comebacks of all-time led the Red Sox past the Yankees on their way towards breaking the 1918 curse and winning their first World Series in 86 years. The Yankees, holding a 3-0 series lead, choked it away and with it the rivalry was renewed.

Dave Roberts’ steal of second base in Game 4 turned the tide permanently towards the Red Sox, and with their 12th inning win the Boston squad dominated the rest of the series like they were starting fresh. Having proven a dominating force in baseball the last two decades, the loss would begin a Yankees fall back to Earth that remains in effect today.

4) 1950 World Cup final: Uruguay 2, Brazil 1

Oh god, they’re going to be on this list twice, aren’t they. Yep, they are.

Before Tuesday, this match was the most painful in the storied history of Brazilian soccer. Known as the “Maracanazo” or the “Blow at the Maracana,” Brazil fell to bitter South American rivals despite being massive favorites.

The Seleção came into the match (which was part of a “final group stage”) on the heels of 7-1 and 6-1 victories over Sweden and Spain. They had all the top players, including Jair, Zizinho, and Moacir Barbosa. Unfortunately, they were stunned, punished for sitting back after scoring the opening goal in the 47th minute.

It was so shocking of a result, and so embarrassing for the host nation, that goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa had a request turned down to commentate on a Brazilian game – in 1993, 43 years after the match. He received one of the Maracana goal posts as a gift for his services to his country in 1963, but he took it home and burned it. To say this result stung the players and fans alike is an understatement.

3) 1999 Open Championship: Jean Van de Velde blows the title on the final hole

One of the most painful results in sports history, golfer Jean Van de Velde rubbished his chance at a first major by choking away the final hole at the British Open. Needing just a double bogey six to claim victory, he shanked a drive, hit a grandstand, traversed knee-high rough, found the beach, and hit into water all on his way to a triple-bogey that would send the match to a three-way playoff. Van de Velde would eventually lose that to Paul Lawrie, a man who was 10 strokes back at the start of play on the final day.

He chose driver off the tee, his first mistake needing such a score to win. He cranked it into the rough, and his second shot caromed off the grandstand and into the thick cut.  The third shot went into the water, and he took a drop for his fourth shot. His fifth found a green-side bunker, and he managed to go up-and-down for a triple-bogey seven from there.

Van de Velde’s collapse was so bad, his name had already been engraved into the Claret Jug. They don’t do that anymore.

2) 2013/14 Ashes series: Australia 5, England 0

Most Americans aren’t in tune with cricket, but much of the world is, and this past Ashes series was an epic disaster for England. The Ashes is a series played on average every four years (it often varies due to the uneven summers of the countries in opposing hemispheres). They play five test matches, and all five are played no matter if one team secures victory in the series before it’s over.

source:  Much of the buildup to this series played into England’s hand. Australia was in a state of transition, having just changed coaches from Mickey Arthur to Darren Lehman.A number of legendary players had recently retired over the past year or two, including Michael Hussey and Rickey Ponting.

England, on the other hand, was a force. They’d won the last Ashes earlier that year (the first time the series had been played twice in the same year) by a 3-0 margin, with Australia just barely avoiding a whitewash thanks to two rain-assisted draws.

Unfortunately for the English, it all went wrong later that year. Australia blasted its way to a 381-run win in the first test at the Gabba, and England never recovered. The Aussies won each Test by at least 150 runs, as bowler Mitchell Johnson ripped through the English lineup of stars including Alistair Cook, Ian Bell, Joe Root, and Kevin Pieterson.  In the fifth and final Test, with England looking to avoid a whitewash, they flopped to a 281-run loss that was no contest.

The series has been played since 1882, and there have only been three whitewashes ever, including this one.

1) 2014 World Cup semifinal: Germany 7, Brazil 1

Call me reactionary, fine. This match every necessary ingredient to be considered the most embarrassing sporting event of all time.

It’s not that they lost to a bad team, or even a mediocre team. Germany was favored by many in this match, especially without Neymar or Thiago Silva. The disappointment and humiliation is in the atmosphere and the manner of defeat.  There, it trumps all else.

source: APOn Brazilian soil, with the team looking to avenge the pain of 1950 still lingering throughout, it all went horribly wrong. The concession of four goals in a six-minute span doomed the side, and it led to a shower of tears the likes of which we’ve never seen before.  The Germans sliced open a team clearly not prepared for their opponent and not up to speed on its technical ability and precision passing.

The Brazilian defense leaked worse than it ever has before, and the Germans were ruthless. For all the talk of losing superstar Neymar, the loss of Silva at the back arguably was worse in hindsight, as David Luiz took the captain’s armband and proceeded to stink it up. He lost track of Thomas Muller on the opening goal, and it went downhill from there.

It all led manager Luis Felipe Scolari to dub the match the “worst day of my life.” A Brazilian newspaper gave every player a goose egg 0 for player ratings. ESPN color commentator Steve McManaman declared “this is amateur hour.” It was such a shellacking that German striker Miroslav Klose set the all-time World Cup goalscoring record and the story was a distant afterthought.

Given the turmoil of the country, the expectations placed on the team (realistic or not), and the catastrophic way in which the match unfolded, it’s certainly fair to place this loss as the most embarrassing in sports history.

Honorable Mention:

Game 6 of the 1986 World Series: the Bill Buckner error
2014 Super Bowl: Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
2014 World Cup group stage: Netherlands 5, Spain 1
2001 College Basketball: Duke 98, Maryland 96 (OT) – Maryland allows 10 points in final 31 seconds of regulation
1950 World Cup: USA 1, England 0
2011 Premier League: Manchester City 6, Manchester United 1

Watford appoint Marco Silva as new manager

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Watford have appointed Portuguese coach Marco Silva as their new manager.

The 39-year-old has signed a two-year deal at Vicarage Road.

Walter Mazarri was fired by Watford before their final game of the season as a dramatic slump in the second half of the season saw them finish one place above the relegation zone.

Silva left Hull City earlier this week, exercising a clause in his 18-month contact that he could leave the Tigers if they were relegated from the Premier League.

After successful stints at Sporting Lisbon and Olympiacos, Silva arrived at Hull in January for his first job in England and made sweeping changes to their squad and almost kept the Tigers up against all the odds.

In a statement on Watford’s website Chairman and CEO Scott Duxbury revealed his excitement at Silva’s arrival.

“Marco was one of the most sought after Head Coaches in the Premier League,” Duxbury said. “His pedigree and promise speaks for itself with his achievements in top divisions elsewhere across Europe, as well as his work at Hull City last season.”

The managerial merry-go-round at Watford continues.

Why Southampton should consider keeping Claude Puel

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It has all gone quiet at Southampton. But for how long?

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Media speculation has been rampant over the past few weeks that Claude Puel, Southampton’s first-year manager, would be shown the exit door at St Mary’s this summer amid fan unrest about the style of play and their regression from a team challenging for the top six.

But, even in these times where fans demand instant success and patience is severely lacking, is that really the right answer?

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Puel, 55, delivered an eighth place finish, the fourth-straight season Southampton have finished eighth or higher, which is the first time they’ve achieved that feat in club history.

Yet many supporters point to the fact that Southampton finished just five points above Swansea City who finished in 15th place, plus they complain about Puel’s dull demeanor in his press conference as he struggles to express himself in English. He is a figure which truly divides the fanbase between those wanting him fired and those wiling to give him another chance.

Saints are a club who finished in a higher league position in seven-straight seasons before this campaign, so perhaps the vast majority of the fanbase have become too accustomed to overachieving and this reality check was always on the horizon.

A top 10 finish and a cup run should always be a superb season for a club of Southampton’s size but fans want more. With talk of a potential Chinese takeover this summer, they want to dream that they can push for a top six finish and qualify for Europe each season and aren’t sure Puel is the right man to deliver it.

That’s fair enough, but when you dissect the entire season and the key stats which came from it, getting rid of Puel seems incredibly hasty. He had many unfortunate obstacles to overcome in his first season in England and it’s unlikely he’ll have so much to deal with next season, and possibly beyond.

Club captain Jose Fonte was sold midway through the season after a disagreement with directors, while leading scorer Charlie Austin (yes, he was out since December but still finished top scorer, with nine) was injured for five months in early December and star center back Virgil Van Dijk was also injured in January as it ended his season. Along with all of this Puel had to deal with Saints’ first-ever Europa League group stage campaign and the agony of missing out on the knockout stages by one goal.

The constant chopping and changing of the team dominated Puel’s reign in the early months as he made 97 lineup changes throughout the season. Only Manchester City and Manchester United made more in the PL in 2016-17. Perhaps one of the major criticisms was that he tinkered too much to try and keep his squad fresh as they pushed to qualify for the Europa League knockout stage, with the previous high-tempo style of play impossible to replicate across a 53 game season.

Hence the slower pace of play which frustrated many fans and perhaps failed to get the best out of a team built by Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman to play a fast, high-pressing style, which in turn led to reports of many senior players unhappy at the tactics deployed by the Frenchman.

Another big factor of the rotation was reaching the EFL Cup final where Saints, again, agonizingly came up short as they lost 3-2 to Manchester United at Wembley in a game which they should have won.

In the Premier League his team scored just 17 goals in 19 home games with no goals in any of their final five home games of the season which led to fans booing and plenty calling for Puel to be fired. But if you look a little deeper, the chances are being created but with Austin out, Manolo Gabbiadini‘s hot streak over after his initial burst and the duo of Shane Long and Jay Rodriguez failing to step up, Saints’ shot conversion rate was the lowest in the PL.

That’s right, Southampton converted just 7.47 percent of the 549 shots that had at goal, which was the seventh-highest number of shot attempts in the PL. Saints created chances but could Puel really do much about his players not converting them? It sounds simplistic, but think about it. With Austin back fit next season, plus Gabbiadini and Sofiane Boufal acclimatized to life in England, will this shot conversion rate really be this low again?

Saints also had two players in the PL’s top 18 in terms of chances created, Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond, and away from home they had the seventh best record but had the 17th best record at home, suggesting their prowess as a counter-attacking team. Had Saints scored penalty kicks against Hull City and Manchester United in two of their final three home games then they would have finished more comfortably in eighth place and had a much better home record.

Small margins.

Southampton also had the second youngest starting XI in the PL at 26 years and 169 days, with Redmond and James Ward-Prowse making their full England debuts, plus no PL club had more than Saints’ seven players in the full and U-21 England teams when they were announced at the end of the season.

As well as English talent like Sam McQueen, Ward-Prowse, Redmond and Jack Stephena improving drastically, Puel helped the likes of Oriol Romeu, Maya Yoshida and Cedric Soares reach new heights too. It shouldn’t be all doom and gloom and Puel is a man who can deliver steady progression at a club which lost its past two managers, Pochettino and Koeman, to bigger teams in the PL just when it appeared they were on the verge of great things at St Mary’s.

Another reason to keep the faith, for at least another season, is the fact that wherever Puel has been he has delivered improved results beyond his first season. There’s a hope he can do that at Southampton, especially without the extra rigors of European action next season.

He took charge of AS Monaco in January 1999 and they won the French title in May 2000. He took charge of Lille in 2002 and improved them from 14th to 10th to 2nd place finishes in his first three seasons at the club. Puel spent six seasons at Lille and helped the likes of Eden Hazard and Yohan Cabaye break into the team.

In 2008 he took charge of Lyon and in his second full season he took the French outfit to the UEFA Champions League semifinal for just the first time in club history, plus Hugo Lloris and others broke through under his guidance. In 2012 he took charge of Nice and in his first season he led them to fourth in Ligue 1 (their highest Ligue 1 finish since 1976), then did it once again in 2015-16 with 17th and 11th place finishes in-between. The Nice team he left behind last season just finished third in Ligue 1.

All of this proves that Puel can improve teams given time.

What is Saints’ alternative to Puel? Some reports suggest Marco Silva would be the main man but he appears to be joining Watford after impressing at Hull City, while the names of Slavisa Jokanovic and Alan Pardew have also been mentioned as potential replacements.

Do Southampton really want to become a club know for hiring and firing managers after a season which presented plenty of challenges but still ended up with a top half finish, a decent run in Europe and a EFL Cup final appearance?

If Saints put faith in Puel, he may just surprise everyone. Of course, like every manager, he needs a bit of luck to drop his way but fans calling for his head should think closely about what the alternative would be.

Antoine Griezmann dismisses Man United reports

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Antoine Griezmann isn’t saying he is close to signing for Manchester United, but he isn’t saying he isn’t close either…

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The French forward, 26, has been at the center of intense media speculation over the past few weeks that he will sign for United this summer as the Red Devils will likely meet his $110 million release clause.

Sending out a message via his Twitter account, Griezmann said the following regarding the rumors he has agreed a contract and reaffirmed his connection to Atleti.

“All the rumors are unfounded, I’m always Colchonero,” Griezmann said. “My direction will be established after discussion with my sports consultants.”

The man who scored 26 goals in 53 appearances for Atleti in 2016-17 is said to be at the top of United’s summer wishlist and it is not like the the PL giants can’t afford to sign any player they want. They proved that last summer by paying Juventus a world-record fee of $114 million for Paul Pogba, who just happens to be Griezmann’s good friend…

Jose Mourinho said after United’s Europa League final win on Wednesday, which secured them a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage for next season, that “Ed Woodward has my list, what I want, what I would like for more than two months. So now it’s up to him and the owners.”

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic recovering from a serious knee injury and out of contract at United this summer, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have chipped in with important goals in the past few months but United are lacking a talismanic striker. That’s where Griezmann comes in.

Alongside a star center back and a new left back, United’s main target is Griezmann.

Whether or not the Frenchman admits it now, United are chasing him hard and there only seems to be one outcome: Griezmann wearing the No.7 jersey at Old Trafford next season.

Toronto FC beats Crew 5-0 to extend unbeaten streak to 8

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TORONTO (AP) Victor Vazquez scored twice and Toronto FC routed the Columbus Crew 5-0 on Friday night to extend its unbeaten streak to a franchise record-matching eight games.

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Toronto (8-1-5) is 7-0-1 since its lone league loss of the season, a 2-1 decision in Columbus on April 15. Columbus (6-7-1) has lost five of seven since topping Toronto.

Justin Morrow and substitutes Jonathan Osorio and Jordan Hamilton also scored for MLS-leading Toronto. The Canadian team also was unbeaten in eight games (4-0-4) from May 8 to July 10, 2010.

Toronto was reduced to 10 men in the 81st minute when midfielder Marky Delgado was red-carded for a studs-up tackle on Columbus captain Wil Trapp. Osorio and Hamilton then scored to pad the lead for Toronto in its sixth shutout of the season.

Toronto played without the starting forward tandem of Sebastian Giovinco (injured) and Jozy Altidore (suspended for yellow card accumulation). Defender Nick Hagglund also is injured.